Studio: international art — 14.1898

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The National Competition


BY Edgar G. perman (Westminster)

The national competi-

There is a convenient phrase which
has dogged critics of the Royal Academy for years
past, and is beginning to be almost as inevitable
when an opinion has to be given on designs at
the National Competition—which is,
that the average was never so high,
but that work head and shoulders
above the average seems becoming
more and more rare. This year
there is scarcely a single item in the
exhibition which suggests a powerful,
if as yet immature, personality. Sculp-
ture, which is notably good, alone
must be held free from such a sweep-
ing assertion. But in black-and-
white illustration (excepting the very
non-academic but decidedly original
work of Jessie King); in designs for
surface ornament (excepting a fine
stencil by Esther E. Tatlow) ; in
carpets, tiles, and a few other
branches, it would be quite easy to
refer to objects exhibited in previous
exhibitions, and to point out their
superiority over the work of 1898.

Yet, on the other hand, there is
very little dull, commonplace effort,
scarcely a trace of the sort of thing
that made South Kensington un-
popular with manufacturers. To-day
not only is design, as a whole, fresh
and full of invention, but—still speak-
ing in general terms—it is practical,
and much of it is capable of being
carried out by any manufacturer who
approves its plan and colour. The
last word touches the weakest point of
the show. Regarded as a well-hung

collection the colour is pleasant and quite admirably
placed; but looked at specimen by specimen, there is
very little that is wholly satisfactory, and much that
is positively ugly. It would be ungracious to name
certain wall-papers, carpets, and stencilled decora-
tions which are peculiar offenders in colour, but no
unprejudiced person could overlook them. It is
to be hoped that the great strides in form and

by Isabel mcbean (New Cross)

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